Be Inspired

As we build up to the three big races coming up, Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, Loskop Ultra and then Comrades Marathon, I am sharing various inspirational images on my Twitter and Instagram account. Follow me on @myownjourney_sa and enjoy these.

If you have a special short quote you like to share, please comment below and I can maybe include it in the collection.

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As a Team – We will tackle his dream!


I (me Douw) was more walking than running when I survived my 5 km race way back in January 2011. That experience was, however, enough to convince me to lace up permanently and develop into a full-fledged runner. I loved it. Here I am, six years later and still enjoying this wonderful sport.

Throughout my running years I have learned that runners and walkers are not made from a single blueprint. We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, sexes, ages, colours and abilities, each one having his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

During Comrades 2016 Cornelia Hutchinson and I ran for more than our own medals by supporting the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run4Bibles charity drive. We were overwhelmed by the love and support we received from our friends, family and even strangers. In the process we managed to raise a stunning R14,000 plus for Bibles.

This year my journey will be somewhat different. I have committed myself to run Comrades 2017 with a friend and to try ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Kris Lourens will be by my side on race day. Our special challenge is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. When he runs without the transmitter unit, he is literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world.

The main challenge for hearing impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners always have to be constantly aware of their surroundings and watch out for traffic, not just cars, but pedestrians and other runners too. It is all evolves around their safety. For this very reason have I committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside with him – hopefully all the way.

Due to many factors, first and foremost the length of the events and the resultant exposure to numerous hazards, disabled athletes comprise a small minority in endurance sports. Christo and I decided that he can use this opportunity to inspire and motivate others and afford him the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for this minority group. It’s a role he shied away from at first, but he now understands that having overcome the odds for himself, he now has the added responsibility to defy stereotypes that exist about deaf people in endurance sports.

Christo is such an inspiration to me, because he is living his life to the fullest while he just happens to wear a hearing aid along the way. He has successfully completed various road races, half and full marathons and he has also hiked the Fish River Canyon trail twice.

Sport is a great equalizer. We may not all finish at the same time, but our efforts and the end results are often not far apart. Our times may differ considerably but that is not the final benchmark. We have to embrace and respect the diversity of everyone’s own challenge, and refrain from judging other athletes by ingenuous criteria alone. When we truly find out about the other person’s challenges, the chances are that they may just surprise you.

Christo runs all his races without wearing his transmitter. Cochlear implants are sensitive pieces of electronic equipment and they are at risk of breaking if they fall out of the ear during vigorous activity. Furthermore, it is not only the transmitter that can be damaged, a sportsman with a cochlear implant is always at risk of suffering a blow to the head on or around the site of the internal package – which may damage the internal package or external parts or the skin around the area. This can happen during a fall or a collision with another person. These risks may seem small, but they are certainly real and any injury would have severe consequences.

I met Christo through mutual friends and we ran our first race together at the Castle Walk 10km on the ninth of August last year. Little did we know how our friendship would develop and what was lying ahead. That single certainly led to an amazing journey towards Comrades 2017. Another proof of the unique ability of this wonderful sport to create meaningful friendships.

When the entries for Comrades Marathon 2017 opened last year, I told Christo that if he entered for this iconic and amazing race, I would commit myself to be at his side and assist him in any way possible on this journey to make his dream come true. And here we are in 2017, Christo has entered and we are on our #Road2Comrades2017. The TeamVitality and Magnolia Road Runners duo is now pushing forward towards the forth of June 2017.

To date we have run various races together, most of them half-marathons – but we are literally only days away from our first joint marathon, the Johnson Crane 42.2km on 29 January 2017. Needless to say, it is important for us to get the qualifying race out of the way first so that we can then start working on the finer details of seconding someone. As a running duo we have to work on our communication, figure out how we will get one another’s attention, how to keep eye contact while communicating, work out brief and simple instructions and start using pre-agreed visual signals to navigate our way safely though the massive crowd on the road. On all the races, but more so on Comrades race day, I have to be sensitive in order to pay attention to many aspects: how we run as a pair, our pacing and running conditions, and the physical and emotional state of my running partner. The responsibility rest firmly on my shoulders to get Christo safely over that finish line in Pietermaritzburg and I am determined and motivated to do just that.

Our running together is based on commitment and dedication but as we got to know one another better and started doing longer runs, I have noticed how the bond of trust has grown between us.  I realised that Christo entered Comrades on the basis of this trust and if it wasn’t for me he would have not done so. I am feeling blessed and so fortunate to share this amazing journey with him and to help him achieve his Comrades dream.

Meeting this amazing individual has forever changed my life and in the process added a new dimension to my own personal passion for running. Last year was a special Comrades Marathon when Cornelia and I ran for Bibles, this year will be double the blessing, running for Bibles again and helping a friend to realise his Comrades dream.

It seems that the above account carries two very important messages for everyone out there. When I started my own journey way back in 2008 I never thought to be living the life I do now. I literally afforded myself a second chance, gave myself a new lease on a happier and healthier life; started to run; lost 53kg; completed various half- full- and ultra-marathons, including three international marathons; and I will line up for my 4th Comrades this year.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The impossible is possible! Through my running I also hope to inspire others to improve their lives. Sharing my humble wisdom and experiences through my own personal web page and other social media interactions is aimed at achieving this. Christo also has a simple, but powerful message: “I love challenges and nothing needs to stand in your way to make your dreams a reality. I’ve been dreaming about doing Comrades for a long time, and this year I am going to do it with my friend and wingman Douw next to me.”

You will be able to follow our journey through my web page at or find me on social media, Twitter and Instagram ( @myownjourney_sa ) You can find Christo on Facebook and Instagram


2017 is around the corner…


Are you ready to welcome the New Year ?
Are you ready to step out and take a new chance on life ?
Are you ready to push your boundaries and challenge yourself to living your best possible life ?

People, this is probably going to be my last post for 2016 and I want to take this opportunity to first thank everyone for being part of my life and my journey throughout this past year. Thank you for your love and support and for believing in me, even when I didn’t. It is so amazing to always feel the love and support form everyone, whether it is in person or via social media, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I really appreciate all the support.

This year was a good year for me with so many wonderful moments and experiences and the good definitely outweighed the not so good. Thinking about all the races I did, it all went well and I was blessed not to have too many injuries or stuff holding me back.

I did my third Comrades Marathon this year and it was an honor to do it this year for the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run For Bibles project and Cornelia Hutchinson and I managed to raise more than R14,000 for this awesome charity. We were so blessed with the awesome support we received. This was also my best Comrades run to date – it was just a really good day on the road.

I also won the Discovery Vitality #MyVitalityPB competition during September and the trip I won to Athens Greece made it possible for myself and Pieter Venter to not only travel to Greece but also to run the Athens Authentic Marathon, celebrating 120 years of the marathon as we know it. What an awesome opportunity ! Feeling so blessed !

There were many other races, Two Oceans, Forever Loskop, Cape Town Marathon and many more – all wonderful events where I was able to share the road with my awesome running family and friends. Part of the highlights of all these events are always the people we get to share the road with. Thank you guys for making each event a special one.



During this year, a very special individual also entered into my life in the form of Christo Kris Lourens. I single this out because Christo has entered for his first Comrades Marathon and I will be his wing man during this special event. The #Road2Comrades2017 has started and you guys will see us on the road at around 40 official races as we train together in preparation for the big one scheduled for the 4th of June 2017. Together we will take on Comrades 2017 and I trust that we will be blessed with a great race, Christo’s first Comrades and my fourth. Also once again looking forward to share the road on that day with so many other passionate runners from all over – turning ordinary into extraordinary !

This year will be another year of #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount and I cannot wait to share it with you all; lots of races, loads of early mornings, traveling, hundreds of traveling and running kilometers and off course lots and lots of photos !

People, as per my previous post, I hope it will be a year of growing, evolving, taking on of new challenges and pushing on to make dreams come true. Always remember this – this means we will have to make mistakes, we have to fail sometimes so we can succeed later. Don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid of challenging yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because this will make the difference between staying where you are and rising from above the rest.

Here is to wish everyone a blessed 2017 !

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Is running getting easier or are you getting stronger ?

ctmIn just over a month from now runners will gather in Cape Town for another edition of the Cape Town Marathon. I will use this race as my early Comrades qualifier and then, closer to Comrades will I try and secure a better seeding for myself.

Like many others I have started picking up the pace of my training. Races and training sessions are now more focused, more intense and goal orientated. After this weekend I realized that running is getting easier again and my efforts are less tiring. Some might say that training gets easier, but fact is, when it feels that training is getting easier it is actually a sign that we are getting stronger and fitter; the result of focused training.

It is not always easy to stay loyal to one’s training. Often it will make you sore and exhaust you. Sometimes it may even hurt. But I have also learned that often it hurts more when we don’t have a good run, when you experience a bad day on the road. I have seen runners hurting more after having to retire from a race early or just not finishing in time. It is not a good place to be. Believe me, been there, done that. Often we don’t have bad race days because we were not prepared and or well trained, there can be other reasons to, but it is better to line up for a race and know that you have done enough compared to lining up filled with doubt.

There is well known quote I always remind myself of, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and that is true. Remember, the time is never right and waiting for the right time is nothing but wasting time. Start now, set a goal for yourself and start working towards it. Focus, commit and give it your all. Live your best possible life.

Happy training everyone.

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Commitment and perseverance is key to success


2016 Comrades done & dusted !

Towards the end of April I introduced you to Bernita Bornmann, “The Butterfly Lady” Through that article people got to know her a little better and the butterfly trail now make sense to many. But at that time Bernita was only weeks away from her first Comrades and now Comrades is over, something of the past.


On 29 May 2016 Bernita successfully completed her first “Ultimate Human Race” in a time of 11:13:58. I decided to catch up with her again to find out little more about her Comrades and this is what she had to say.

I asked her to share with me how her first Comrades was; how she felt before, during and after the race and if it was what she expected from this iconic races.

“Before the race….you and thousands of other runners listen to Chariots of Fire…. I still find it hard to describe that feeling. I felt anxious, excited, scared, determined but also very proud to finally be part of the Ultimate Human Race.  I felt proud to have the guts to actually pitch up for the biggest challenge I have ever set for myself.”

“During the race your every emotion follows the massive crowd of people going up and down the hills.  Your legs hurt in ways no one could prepare you for, but then you look at the supporters cheering, shouting your name and you think of all the reasons you started this challenge in the first place.”

“When I got to Cowies I was in a lot of pain, but quitting was not an option.  I remember saying to myself, ‘Don’t stop no matter what!’  Other than hurting, I had no medical issues or cramping.  One of the challenges was not to worry too much about the time and cut-offs as this can add a lot of extra stress. I knew I had to make it, I knew I had to be there in a certain time, but because I was ahead of time I did not let it get to me. A lot of the thinking and planning was done by my running partner Paul who ran the whole race with me, something I am very grateful for. I learnt a lot from this Comrades and will apply it at next year’s race.”

Hours later, you along with many other runners entered Kinsmead Stadium in Durban. Can you remember the first thing that went through your mind when you entered the stadium knowing the end is only a few hundred meters away ?

“I cannot really pinpoint a specific thought or feeling… it all happens so fast, those final few moments.  I know that I was overwhelmed by an array of emotions and feelings when I looked up into the crowd and realised that I made it. This is the finish I always saw on TV and then I realised, now I am part of it, not from up there or from my coach, but as a Comrades finisher. I realised I did it, I completed my first Comrades Marathon. I was filled with pride, joy, thankfulness and yes, relieve that it was over. Believe me, there was a lot of tears at the finish line.”

Bernita, Comrades is a tough race which test athletes on so many levels. I am a firm believer that Comrades is not just a single event, it is not only about race day, race day is to me the conclusion of a journey that started months ago. Obviously your training has paid off and you successfully completed this iconic ultra-marathon, but now in hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently if you had the opportunity ?

“No, I don’t think so. One can only train up to a certain point. I did plus minus 1300km from in training from the start of January and did not have any injuries that required physiotherapy or anything else. Just a niggle now and then, but then also rested when I needed to. I am so thankful for this. I also think the fact that I also focussed on stretching and weight training helped me during the down run.”

What have you learned about yourself on this road to Comrades ( before, during and after the race )

“Like I said previously, if I set my mind to something I will complete it.  Commitment and perseverance is key to success.

The next obvious question. Will you be there on the 4th of June 2017 to take on the up run to secure your back to back medal ?


Okay, so you are going back in 2017, in that case, is there anything you are going to do different in preparation for that race ? …and if so, what and why ?

“I have already heard from various Comrades runners that hill training is key to have a good up run, so yah, hills, hills and more hills will be on the training agenda for sure. For those who know me it is not a secret that I am not very fond of running hills so I have a lot of hard work to do for next year. I have to change my road work to also incorporate hill training. I think it will also altogether be a new challenge for me, mentally.”

In our previous chat you mentioned that the butterfly trail will continue to Comrades. So tell us, is there a little black and white butterfly at Kingsmead ?

“Yes!  I actually had the opportunity to put then up along the route, before the race. What an amazing sight to see them while I was running.  And also, every 10km one was thrown up in the air!”

What will you say to anyone who is considering Comrades but who are maybe hesitant or scared to do it ?

“Visualize how you would feel at the end.  Many of my running friends told me this before the time, and I did it. If you train correctly, give it the right amount of respect and give it your all you can complete Comrades.”

So friends, there it is, “the Butterfly Lady” has spoken. Will you be joining her in 2017 maybe for your first Comrades ? Remember my favorited Madiba quote, “It always seem impossible until it’s done.”

Join me as we try to ‘Simplify Life’

Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

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First “Simplify Your Life” image : 04.07.2016

Believe me, when Confucius made that statement he was certainly not confused.

It is the truth.

Most of us are trapped in a race against time and often not even knowing where we‘re heading. The key to a more simplified life is to do what’s right, the right way and at the right time, but it is not always that simple.

Well, today I am starting a social media drive called “Simplify Your Life” I will be posting simple life hacks to help you simplify your life. To be part of this you can follow me on Instagram or Twitter using @myownjourney_sa or you can join me on Facebook where the posts will also appear. Feel free also to chat along, post, comment and share your “simple life” tips using the hashtag #simplyyourlife

Enjoy the short journey with me as we try to create a more simplified life.

Naomi : From Novice Runner to Comrades Finisher

naomi finihs

Let me introduce you to Naomi Janse Van Rensburg, not the runner we met on the inspiration section on The Marathon Club web page, but now a Comrades finisher. But, before we get to Comrades, let us quickly recap.

Naomi started running in 2003, and only did 5km and 10km races. She quickly started to climb the runner’s ladder and in 2016, 13 years after she started to run, she found herself at the starting line of her first marathon.

Asking her about her family, if she comes from an active family, this is what Naomi had to say:

“My in-laws also started to run in 2003 and always told us it is the cheapest way to get fit. I guess I believed them and followed in their footsteps, however, they did not really motivate me to do more. I only started to become more of a runner when my husband and I joined a running club for the first time in 2014. We did this with the hope to start doing a little more than just the occasional runs.

“I always had a desire to do more than just the average runs and I wanted to see if I am strong and focussed enough to challenge myself to go further. The only way I could do this was to set a definite goal for myself and then see if I can realise it. I knew very little about Comrades, in fact my own personal knowledge of Comrades was basically limited to the final few minutes before the final cut off I watched on TV. The more I trained and the more I started to mingle with runners, the more I learned about this iconic race and I guess it is against that backdrop and watching the final moments of the 2015 Comrades that I decided to challenge myself and I decided to do Comrades.” Naomi said.

“Last year I started focusing on half marathons and in October 2015 I joined a training group and this is when I really started to become more focussed.”

Naomi says that doing Comrades was initially not a dream, but rather a challenge, but later, as her training progressed the challenge changed into a dream. “With the support of my running friends, Comrades became more and more of a reality, and soon I realised, there was no turning back.”

“I was determined and ready for Comrades when I arrived at the starting line.”

I wanted to know how Naomi experienced the whole idea  of and build up to Comrades. This is what she had to say. 

“Comrades became to me more than just a race. It became more than just a single day of running. It became a journey, a process. I knew if I do my part, if I arrive there prepared, physically and mentally, that my chances were good to actually make it. Of course there were moments of doubt, every morning when I laced up for a race during the build up to Comrades; I knew that everything I did, every race and every training run, was aimed at one goal, Comrades 2016.”

“When I lined up at the start in Pietermaritzburg I knew I did everything I possibly could to be ready. I was there and I knew it was going to be long and challenging day, but I knew that I had a good shot at making it to Durban, in time. On the one side there was confidence and believe which weighed up against also a fair share of worry. My main concerns on race day were that my ITB and shin splints will hinder me from having a good run and I was also concerned about not eating enough or even eating wrong on race day. I was a novice runner, so really relied on what I read and what people told me. Come race day, I was on my own and had to make my own decisions.”

naomi medalAsking Naomi how her actual run was, her reply was filled with pride.

“The day went exactly according to plan. I would have not done anything different. By His grace did I make it to Durban. The day was tough and my main challenge came at around 33km because I had to deal with the emotional aspect of Comrades and the sudden realisation that I was actually there, already on my way to Durban and then the sudden reality check that I still have 56.3km to go. I had to calm myself down and reminded myself that I was there with one goal and one goal only, to finish. I was able to carry on because I knew I was not alone and I knew that there were people not just out there, at home, but on the road with me, who believed in me.”

“When I crossed the finish line at Kingsmead Stadium in Durban at 11:43:22, I was confronted with various mixed feelings. I was stunned, relieved and happy, oh and tired and sore. I could not even cry, I was just too tired and too happy that I actually made it. I also felt an intense feeling of gratitude, grateful for every step I was able to complete, from beginning to end. I realised that this was finally full circle, months and months of training got tied together in one great moment. This year the Comrades slogan was, “It will humble you” and believe me, I was humbled. Now that I have gone from runner to Comrades finisher, I am humbled by the whole experience and I know that all this is only possible because of grace.”

Naomi took off a few days, 17 days to be exact, and is back on the road, slowly getting back into the swing of things.

My next, obvious question, “Next year is the up run – will you run again?”

“Yes, definitely. I’ll be there. I have to go back to collect my back to back medal. I am planning to qualify at Kaapsehoop marathon in November” she said.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start running but doesn’t know where to start ? 

“Just start and keep on moving, don’t stop. Inspiration is everywhere. Look for it and make it your own. Get inspirited by peoples story’s, read inspirational quotes. My friend Douw Prinsloo told me that Comrades will change your whole view of running and it will redefine who you thought you were as a runner and as a person. This is so true.”